Still waiting on Decider to give us another “Disasterpiece Theater“, so instead I’ll link this cruel fellow beating the dead horse that is Highlander II, a film I haven’t even seen (because I never saw the big deal about the first one, but whatever. Geek does not require explanation).
This is what sometimes happens when you try to ressurrect a film, to apply charity to film criticism, to wipe off the snotties and say you’re not really such a bad boy, are you? Sometimes you find yourself staring numbly into the raw horror of a universe devoid of reason, where nothing makes sense.
Highlander II almost immediately goes back over every plot point of the first film. The immortals were never immortals but in fact aliens, Sean Connery can resurrect himself (ironically making him more immortal than when he was actually an immortal), and the Highlander wasn’t actually from the Highlands but instead from another planet. It also retcons the prize to a choice between dying slowly or being executed. Also, all that bit about MacLeod first meeting Ramirez, learning his true nature and all that character development? Retcon! Turns out they already had some sort of weird civil partnership thing going on, using magic space honey. Also, MacLeod was head of the immortals, I mean “Zeistians”.
That’s the beginning of the long discussion of a plot that was clearly written by coked-out monkeys via William Burroughs’ cut-up method. That’s my theory, anyway, because despite the headline, the linked article doesn’t actually explain how this happened. How did a director make a film he walked out on? How did human writers conceive of this madness? What studio head looked at this and said “Yes! Put it out for the public! Now!”
Amazingly, it didn’t destroy the franchise. Far from it. The 90s saw a Highlander explosion, with a new film, a TV series (that got its own films in the 2000s), novels, video games, and even a cartoon series. They all have one thing in common, though – they all pretend that Highlander II never happened.
I would like to offer a counter-theory. Because the first Highlander struck me as kinda “whatever”, I would like to ask if the horribleness of Highlander II is precisely the reason that the universe went on to thrive in the 90’s. A merely boring sequel, that would have let to audience and studio indifference. But a terrifyingly bad monstrosity as a sequel to a film that was pretty good and sold well, that gets remembered (as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing about it this many years after the fact). And more, it creates a need for redemption. Somebody said “Boy we hosed this! This is embarrassing! We need to fix it!” Thus, the first film build a fan base, the second film outraged it, hence, other films and TV. Highlander II died that others may rise.